Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Why it's Sometimes Better to Wait for Garbage Day...

Remember when I professed a weakness for nesting and home goods (check out the entry here)? I showed you my tea set and other vintage finds and spoke of strolling through charity shops looking for bargains. As much as vintage wardrobes with labeled compartments and art deco sideboards seemed a fantastical bargain, they stayed just that, a fantasy. 
Over a year ago I moved into a flat double the size of my parent's in France. Suddenly, I had loads of space. I didn't do anything about it, mostly because I was panicking about not being able to find a flatmate and having to pay double rent. Also, being a student means that furniture and home goods splurges are far and few between. All the same, one day I returned home to find a beautiful IKEA sideboard across the street. Aside from a wonky leg and a missing shelf it was in perfect condition. A few weeks later a TV stand appeared around the corner. Then a side table. They all ended up in the flat. I never was the sort of person who picked up furniture from the street. I suppose I was always afraid the people who put it out would see. Strange since they were in fact chucking it out in the first place! Then again, there have always been cultural stereotypes associated with people uplifting chucked-out furniture in most of the countries I've lived in so perhaps it's not so surprising that I felt that way. I was always the one to advocate IKEA for cheap and cheerful solutions. Finding sturdier pieces of furniture for free or very little money can't really be beat though.
Glasgow is full of grannies who keep everything and hipsters who are on the prowl for vintage furniture to display their old turntables and cassette decks. Maybe it's the fact that most of the real-estate here is at least a hundred years old. Flats are huge with super high ceilings, old fireplaces, and crown molding as standard features. Some even have original stained-glass in the tops of the bay windows. It's things like this that make me value living in the UK as there is no way I could have afforded an apartment like this in NoVA! Anyway, somehow or another a lot furniture ends up in the street for uplift but often gets snagged before the night is through. My 50s (?) dressing table was one such find. My friend found it on a walk home and took the drawers with him so that no one would take it. He later returned for the table. When he moved, he gave it to me. Granted, I had to pay for the taxi home but still, it only set me back about 8 GBP ($13.87).  Many other pieces of furniture end up in charity shops where they get sold for really cheaply. Want a massive wood sideboard? Got 25 GBP ($40.86)? Done! It might have dents, scratches, or smell a bit strange but as long as you are willing to clean it and/or paint/refinish/love it the sky is the limit. I picked up a bedside table for 3 GBP ($4.90) at Salvation Army. 
On Monday, the boy and I were getting ready to go to IKEA to pick up bedding for my parent's graduation visit. We headed into a charity shop I hadn't been to before. Having a walk-in closet is wonderful, but I was really losing space by having to hang everything I owned or squeeze it into a hanging shelf. I found a pretty dresser that had a mirror on top. It was a little bit beat-up but mostly just dirty (it had wallpaper drawer liners and a broken hearing aid in it!). It was also 25 GBP ($40.86). I wasn't so in love with it that I wanted to spend that much. It only had three drawers and they were pretty shallow. As I pondered it and the boy encouraged me to think about it (i.e. leave the shop) one of the people who worked there approached me. She asked me what I was looking it and asked if I would be able to take it home immediately. Since I lived less than five minutes away it wouldn't require a delivery. She offered it to me for 10 GBP ($16.34). I was sold. We carried it home, cleaned it out, and headed to IKEA. End of story.
Or so I thought. Tonight, after two pep talks (one from each parent) to soothe my final exam panic freakout I headed to the guest bedroom to grab some fresh basil for dinner from the plant on the windowsill. Something caught my eye outside and I looked out only to see a plethora of  what seemed to be really good-looking vintage furniture being placed kerbside. I grabbed some shoes and ran down the stairs. The rain beat me to it, as did a man in a van who grabbed the TV sitting on a beautiful old dresser. 
I have to say that it almost hurt a bit when I realised that if I had waited a day or two that I could have gotten a dresser with much deeper drawers for free. I managed to carry it up the stairs along with a vintage sewing box table which definitely needs work (the inner-lining is shot and stained) but is certainly perfect for a side or bedside table. I didn't grab the hallway umbrella/coat stand because although I had the room, I didn't really have a good place for it. An hour or so ago I looked out the window and it too had vanished. Guess I'm not the only happy one tonight!
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my new furniture just yet. I'm definitely finishing exams first! I know I could live with the small imperfections but I also would love to re-finish or paint some of the pieces like Young House Love did with an older dresser they found on Craigslist. On a side note, if you aren't reading their blog, you should be! The mirrored dresser I bought already has clothes in it (my closet has so much more space!). The other one is empty. Since I have it in the hallway, I might use it to store the tea set and/or winter hats/mittens/etc, and extra sheets and duvet covers. All the same I definitely want to get rid of a lot of stuff before I fill up the dresser (I tried another Young House Love tactic when I was at my parents and tried to donate at least 100 things. I ended up with 235 items!). 
So there you have it! My attempt to write a shorter entry and get back to revision has failed but at least there are pretty pictures to look at, right? And if you should happen to have any DIY tips or ideas for the dresser or sewing table, I'm all ears!

Sewing Box Table

Ideas? Wondering how easy/hard it might be to re-do the inside!
The 50s (?) Dressing Table
The dresser I paid for...
And the one I got for free!
The free 160 GBP IKEA sideboard
The one that got away...the hallway umbrella/coat stand...

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